Qantas bans a male passenger for seven years over allegation he inappropriately touched the woman seated beside him – but he says he was not able to give his version of events
An Australian airline passenger has been banned from flying with Qantas for seven years after a woman sitting next to him claimed he touched her inappropriately.
The 64-year-old man, who has not been named, was blacklisted by the airline after the alleged incident on a flight between London and Singapore on November 3 last year, which he said was done before he could give his account of . happenings.
Police in Singapore, where the plane landed, are understood to have been contacted by the flight crew and made inquiries about an ‘outrage of modesty’ offence. The ban was issued before the police completed their enquiries.
The 64-year-old is not allowed to fly with any airline in the Qantas Group or Jetstar Group, on any codeshare flights operated by partner airlines, nor to purchase any flight on a Qantas-issued ticket or within the Qantas to go lounge.
“No information (regarding the allegations) was given to me whatsoever,” he said The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘I was in tears the first few days. I’m even still beside myself.’
The male passenger was banned from flying with the airline or any flights operated in partnership with the airline until 2030.
In a letter appealing against the ban, the man claimed he was never warned the woman felt uncomfortable and only suspected there was a problem when she left and did not return to her seat.
He claimed he asked a flight attendant if there was a problem and was told out loud: ‘You entered the lady’s space and what you did was wrong’.
The man said in the letter that he and the woman had some small talk as the plane left London airport about topics such as what movies were shown on the plane and the recent referendum.
She was in a middle seat, with her husband in the same seat the row behind her, and the husband was in the window seat.
He said she did not ask him to switch seats with her husband and that he fell asleep about an hour into the flight and woke up to find the woman gone.
Another woman in the aisle seat in their row moved seats soon after and two flight attendants occupied the seats until the plane landed in Singapore where they escorted him off the plane.
The Singapore police were contacted and investigated the alleged incident, questioning the man at the airport and impounding his passport.
After five days the police told him their investigations were concluded and he received a warning along with a letter freeing him to leave the country and return to Australia.
When he returned, the man appealed the ban in writing to Qantas, claiming the airline had ‘humiliated’ him and that airline staff had not exercised ‘thoroughness’ in asking him for his side of events.
It is understood that an internal panel of Qantas staff assesses such appeals using statements from witnesses, including flight crew and other passengers.
The alleged incident happened on a November 7 flight from London’s Heathrow (pictured) to Singapore’s Changi Airport
Qantas dismissed the appeal on Thursday.
The airline said the allegations against the man include that he touched the woman on the inner thigh and also between her arm and breast when the plane took off.
As soon as she moved seats, he allegedly moved to the middle seat, made ‘unwarranted conversation’ with the woman in the aisle seat and then ordered drinks on her behalf even though she told him she wanted to go to bed.
The man denies changing seats and says he only touched the knee of the first woman to get her attention and ask her to wake him up when meals arrived.
A representative authorized to speak for the man claimed that: ‘Officials in Singapore have told us that women are claiming “unwanted sexual contact” in order to be upgraded on long-haul flights.
It is understood that no flight bans are extremely rare and airlines such as Qantas reserve the right to refuse service at their discretion.
The airline said in a statement: ‘The safety of our customers and crew is our number one priority and we do not tolerate any form of inappropriate or abusive behaviour.’
The ban will be lifted in November 2030.